Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

Combining Neuroscience with Meditation (Mindfulness) Practice

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Rick Hanson from Neurodharma:

“So how can we warm the heart and develop compassion and kindness, for our own sake and for that if others.

Mindfulness is necessary, but not sufficient.

Studies of mindfulness and related meditations have found that these can alter neural networks for attention, self awareness, and self-control. This is really good, but it doesn’t directly strengthen key parts of the neural basis of compassion and kindness.

Related but distinct networks handle these things.

For example, pleasurable social experience activate brain regions that help produce experiences of physical pleasure.

Being generous, cooperative, and fair can stimulate neural reward centers. And social pain– such as rejection or loneliness—taps the same network that underlie physical pain.

It is when we focus on warmheartedness itself that it’s aspects are most experienced in the mind and developed in the nervous system.

Compassion-focused meditation stimulates specific parts of the brain involved with the with the sense of connection, positive emotions, and reward, including the middle orbitofrontal cortex, behind where your eyebrows meet.

Long term practitioners of lovingkindness meditation develop similar neurological reactions to seeing the faces of strangers and their own faces, with growing sense of “you’re like me.”

They also build neural tissue in key parts of the hippocampus that support feelings of empathy towards others.”

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Sustained Attention, focus, concentration

The boys at pumpkin patch

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When you commit to meditating, can you concentrate for ten breaths with sustained attention?

Sustained attention example: The Breath is our focus object.

I keep constant contact with the breath, with each inhale, pause, exhale and pause.

My breathing track model offers a visual representation of the four parts of a breath cycle.

Using this model, it is like tracing my breath with my finger through each inhale, pause, exhale and pause. As I breathe my finger moves around the model.

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Start bottom right with the inhale moving upward and to the left. Then pause, exhale and final pause.

If your a beginner, trace your breath with your eyes open first, feel the transitions, the flow of your breath.

Find a focus object you can keep constant contact with for ten breaths.

I also listen intently for the slightest sound, then feel the tiniest body sensations.

Distractions make meditating difficult.

Thoughts, thinking, the monkey mind disrupts our concentration. A thought can expand, last for minutes or more and destroy focus.

Sustained attention (constant contact) trains the mind to concentrate at a deeper level.

Our goal is to be focused, mind empty of thought, extremely relaxed and aware.

Meditation trains the mind to concentrate, to let the cognitive hemisphere rest and the creative side to flourish.

Remember no right or wrong, good or bad, no words, sentences, worry, doubt or fear on the expansive side.

No past or future exists in the right hemisphere.

Unlimited opportunity is available for each one of us over here.

Sustained focus strengthens our concentration power.

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Learning in the Brain

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From Rick Hanson:

1. Experience what you’d like to develop.

2. Turn that experience into lasting change in your brain.

I call the first stage activation and the second stage installation.

This is positive neuroplasticity: turning passing states into lasting traits. The second stage is absolutely necessary.

Experiencing does not equal learning.

Without a change in neural structure or function, there is no enduring mental change for the better.

Unfortunately, we typically move on so quickly from one experience to another that the current thought of feeling has little chance to leave a lasting trace.

In working with others, we might think that something good will somehow rub off on the people we are trying to help.

It may for some, though not very efficiently,and for many there is little to no lasting gain.

As a result, most beneficial experiences pass through the brain like water through a sieve, leaving no value behind.

You have a good conversation with a friend or feel calmer in meditation– and then an hour later it’s like it never happened.

If awakening is like a mountain, in some moments you may find yourself far up the slopes– but can you stay there, on firm footing?

Or do you keep slipping back down again?

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Pain, suffering and Craving

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In a word there is suffering, named by Buddha as the First Noble Truth of human existence. This is not the whole of life.

There are also love and joy, laughing with friends, and the comfort of a warm sweater on a cold day.

Yet each of us must face the truth of suffering some of the time, and many of us face it all the time.

Poignantly, much of our suffering is added to life. We add it when we worry needlessly, criticize ourselves to no good purpose, or replay the same conversation over and over again.

We add it when we freeeze up around an authority figure or feel ashamed of some minor fault.

Life has unavoidable physical and emotional pains, and then we add suffering to them: thus the saying “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. 

For example we get embarrassed about having an illness or drink to much to numb old wounds.

This add-on suffering is not accidental. It has a source: “craving,” the sense of something missing, something wrong, something we must get.

From Neurodharma by Rick Hanson

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How I calmed my fight or flight mechanism

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https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

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Acceptance and Committment therapy introduced me to meditation.

At first meditation seemed abstract, simple and benign.

Took me awhile to see its enormous power and healing properties.

My triggers exploded violently, solar plexus jolted with fear, actually a big dose adrenaline and cortisol is dumped into our blood stream.

Heart rate, blood pressure, respiration increase, we lose fine motor skills, get tunnel vision along with cognitive functions becoming cloudy and limited, we are ready for imminent danger.

Until I calmed this mechanism, PTSD kicked my Ass, badly.

I built my focus, meditated everyday, learned to stay present when my fight or flight mechanism fired.

Every time it exploded, I watched intently, became familiar with all the body sensations and the attached emotions.

Then in ten minutes or so, the drugs were absorbed, my system returned to normal.

No damage, just my defense mechanism firing erroneously from PTSD.

In time, after many tries or failures, I succeeded.

My fight or flight mechanism calmed, stopped firing for traumas triggers.

Life changed that day.

The storyline was left unprotected and vulnerable to be integrated.

Pick one thing to work on at a time.

I chose to limit my Dissociation while I unplugged my fight or flight mechanism.

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Take the Power away from your Triggers

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The skills learned to heal from PTSD are accumulative.

They are similar to lifting weights. If you build a solid foundation over a long period of time, you can stop for a while, then return and muscles have memory.

A daily meditation practice calmed my fight or flight mechanism.

My triggers lost the power of cortisol, adrenaline and the physiological changes.

Triggers did not explode anymore, the storyline stood by itself for the first time.

If my fight or flight mechanism did not fire, trauma had lost its most powerful weapons, fear and panic.

No need to run or avoid triggers anymore.

The thoughts were isolated now, vulnerable, ready to be integrated.

Calm your nervous system using your breath, meditate and learn how to dissipate cortisol and adrenaline.

Practice when it is calm, then apply when all hell breaks lose.

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Complex PTSD a subtype of PTSD

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“Complex PTSD is a subtype of PTSD with complex symptomatology in response to chronic trauma (Herman, 1992).

Usually, the patient has an extensive history of childhood abuse where the patient can’t remember a time when they weren’t being abused.

Another example of chronic trauma includes victims of long-term intimate partner violence.

In comparison with textbook patients with PTSD, who have a distinct life before and after their traumatic experience, patients with complex PTSD are only familiar with the traumatic experience.

Patients with complex PTSD have issues with emotional regulation, and can range from rageful to regretful in a single session, much like patients with borderline personality disorder.

Patients with complex PTSD often get caught up in cycles of re-enactment where they act out in their personal relationships, and even in their therapeutic relationships, in ways that mimic the trauma that they’ve felt.

In Dr. Jain’s experience, although patients with complex PTSD exhibit emotional lability, just like borderline personality disorder, she would think a diagnosis would lean more towards borderline personality disorder if the classic symptoms (such as identity issues, self-injury, chronic suicidality and attachment issues) were present (APA 2013).”

From: https://www.psychiatrypodcast.com/psychiatry-psychotherapy-podcast/2019/6/12/the-unspeakable-mind-stories-of-trauma-and-healing-from-the-frontline-of-ptsd-science

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overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented,

Pixabay: cocoparisienne

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The Body Keeps the Score

The overwhelming experience is split off and fragmented, so that the emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take on a life of their own.

The sensory fragments of memory intrude into the present, where they are literally relived.

As long as the trauma is not resolved, the stress hormones that the body secretes to protect itself keep circulating, and the defensive movements and emotional responses keep getting replayed.

Unlike Stan, however, many people may not be aware of the connection between their “crazy” feelings and reactions and the traumatic events that are being replayed.

They have no idea why they respond to some minor irritation as if they were about to be annihilated.

Flashbacks and reliving are in some ways worse that the trauma itself.

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passive, navel-gazing

Pixabay: stux

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“The practice of meditation is not a passive, navel-gazing luxury for people looking to escape the rigors of our complex world.

Mindfulness and meditation are about deeply changing ourselves so that we can be the change that we see needed for the world. —

Larry Yang

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My two cents: A daily meditation practice is an auger, uncovering fear, doubt, worry and traumatized parts.

My practice was extremely violent when old trauma was forced to leave my being.

Yes, extremely scary the initial journey but an enjoyable violent exit after that.

Never give in, Never give up!

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Tazzie responds to a post on betrayal trauma

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I follow Tazzie’s blog and find her an inspiration. Oh she lives in Tasmania.

https://echidna.home.blog

“What incredible research and statistics. My partner and I tried to be as honest and open in all areas of our relationship. Yet I feel as being his third long term partner, and one after a relationship with a woman who treated him terribly our honesty and respect unconditional love and not fearing how our words would be taken wrongly allowed us to have a very deep level of love. My partner had had prostate cancer and this impacted his ability at times, he was deeply ashamed of this. Worried how I would react. We were totally open about it. things improved greatly and he shared that with me he never felt in adequate or a need to perform.

I feel so little real information is shared honestly and openly about sex. The crap that is written in magazines and tv movies. Expectations and that it will be wonderful. The shame of body image. Aging, odours, natural odours that have the pheremones being sanatised and destroyed by chemicals.

The pornogrpahy industry showing ridiculous situations fantasies, and all that goes with it. Fictional and not reality but often the only way many see the sexual act displayed. Sigh.

Sex and sexuality, expectation and reality. Not being honest, not communicating about what you like, and how before you marry or commit to a relationship with someone who may not really be on the same page or need as you are in the sex department.

I know that my partner and I were very very lucky but we did work very hard at communicating and not judging. When he became ill with his cancer, he told me it would be OK if I had sex with someone else I told him how touched and appreciated I was by his very kind words. I told him it meant a lot to me but he meant more and I knew at this point in his life if I did that even with his blessing it would hurt him. I also told him that I was quite happy if I needed to to masturbate, something he quite enjoyed being present for. lol he found it fascinating.

I feel sex is one thing but a sexual relationship and a commitment to being a couple goes deeper than sex. Many women find masturbation satisfies them better than sex with their partner. Have they shared it with their partner maybe not.

I am a very open and willing person in relationships within reason and my being in charge of my situation(not sure that makes sense) So if any person I was in a relationship with say went off and had sex with say a paid sex worker or an affair. I would much prefer that it was a safe hygiene where the sex worker was not taken advantage off, but a ‘professional’ than if the person had an affair. Firstly I would want to know why my partner had done this, and what I was not willing to do to satisfythe need. If I was nt willing but the person told me and still needed that to help then it would be to me no different to other therapies that help people cope. It is a business transaction, not emotional. If it was an affair, why? would I want the person still to be in my life if they did not want to be with me, I dont think so. As I age Sex is important but it is such a transient thing dependent on so many things. Both parties feeling like it at the same moment, weariness, children, stress, work, finances, body image, making noise and disturbing neighbours, having different desires (consenting adults ones) comfort levels, education regarding sex. some people seeing it as a necessity but not enjoyable, other loving it. Not feeling satisfied by it. feeling inadequate.

It is really a tragedy that so much is put upon sex in a realtionship. If you are really having such incredible issues in regard to your partners sexual needs (as long as they are in regard to consensual adults) than perhaps love is not what you have but a dream of what you thought it would be.

I believe you have to be honest before committing to live with someone. Be honest with yourself too. If you can not communicate about sex, openly with the person that might be a red flag.

I have never been married as I see it as a institution by the religious organisations to keep woman powerless and certainly in our history as chattels and owned by their spouses. Even now many religious services continue to have obey for the woman to say to the man but not the other way.

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